Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vacation Adventures

During the week of Labor Day, we decided to take a few days of vacation. Our initial plan was to go camping, but the forecast called for thunderstorms. As such, we decided to set up camp in Grammy and Grandpa's back yard where we would have access to their camper in the event of thunderstorms.

Owen attends afternoon preschool Tuesday through Friday; therefore, we decided to leave following school on Tuesday and to return prior to school on Friday so that Owen would only miss two days of school. By the time we arrived at Grammy and Grandpa's house on Tuesday it was too late to set up the tent, so we set up shop in their camper for the night.

Since Owen enjoys trains, we decided to visit the Warther Carving Museum in Dover, Ohio on Wednesday. The museum houses numerous scale model trains (see pictures below) that were hand carved out of walnut, ebony and ivory by Ernest Warther. The museum also includes scale models of other mechanical equipment including a model of the steel mill where Ernest once worked. Ernest could have sold his carvings for large sums of money; however he perceived his carving as a hobby and was reluctant to sell his carvings. Initially Ernest designed and crafted his own knives that were specifically tailored for his carving needs. Ernest ventured into design and fabrication of kitchen knives in response to a request from his mother for a knife that would not become dull so quickly. When the steel mill went out of business, Ernest began to manufacture hand crafted kitchen knives to support his family. The Warther family continues to manufacture high-quality hand-crafted kitchen knives. If you are looking for something to do in northeast Ohio, I highly recommend a visit to this museum located less than a mile est of Interstate 77 in Dover, Ohio.

One of several trains carved from ivory.

One of several trains carved primarily from ebony.

This train was carved from a walnut tree stump.

The weather cooperated and we were able to sleep in the tent Wednesday night. Dinner consisted of pie-irons and smores cooked over a back yard campfire. Clara was too excited to fall asleep in the pack and play, so Ellen laid down with her on one of our air mattresses. Owen decided that he needed to join them. After awhile both kids gave in and fell asleep. When I got up to put sleeping Clara into the pack and play, we realized that Clara had fallen asleep cuddled up to Owen. Unfortunately it was too dark and too late for a picture.

On Thursday, we traveled to the Cleveland Zoo to meet up with Nana and Papa who had arrived on Wednesday from Phoenix, Arizona. We decided to visit the zoo because they were hosting a visiting display of life-sized mechanical dinosaurs. We knew that Owen would enjoy the dinosaurs, but were surprised that Clara seemed to like the dinosaurs as much as Owen. Clara seemed to think that the dinosaurs were big toys and kept trying to stand up in the stroller to get a closer look. This display has been extended until October 25, 2009 and costs only $1 after admission to the zoo.

What that behind Ellen and Owen?

Owen hiding behind Papa from the T-Rex.

Clara wanted an up close view of the T-Rex (and the other dinosaurs too).

Let me out of this stroller so I can play with those moving toys!!

Papa getting sprayed by the spitting dinosaur after we tried to warn him several times.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Owen has declared that we must see the fish during every visit to the Columbus Zoo. He would stand at the glass watching the fish for hours if we would let him. Even when the zoo is busy, the aquarium offers a peaceful place to rest for a few minutes and cool down (summer visits) or warm up (fall/winter visits). Therefore, Ellen and I are generally happy to oblige Owen's request.

Since we live reasonably close to the zoo and have a membership, we visit the zoo several times each year and try to limit each visit to less than four hours. As such, we visit only a portion of the zoo and the aquarium during each visit. Fortunately, the aquarium is generally in the middle of the zoo, so we do not have to trek to the far reaches of the zoo to see the fish.